Youth Leaders

ARISE's Youth Leaders are a cohort of stipended youth who meet throughout the year to support their development, relationships, and work as community organizers.


What do arise

Youth Leaders do?

As an ARISE Youth Leader, you will participate in a range of learning opportunities including:

  • political education trainings, where you will develop your knowledge of systems of power, yourself, your community, and justice work

  • school visits and youth organizing conferences, where you will build power with youth organizers across the country

  • workshops with local community organizers, where you will develop leadership, advocacy, and organizing skills

  • participating in and organizing community workshops, gatherings, and political actions with other youth organizers across the city

  • campaign work to build youth power across the city and fight for educational justice in our public schools

Youth Leaders are expected to participate in an application and orientation process; commit 4-6 hours a week to the program; lead ARISE work within our programs and our larger organization; build relationships with the Youth Leader cohort, other youth organizers, and classmates; share knowledge, skills, and opportunities for leadership with other youth outside of ARISE programs; recruit youth to ARISE programs; and invest in social justice work. 

Our current cohort is working in coalition with youth organizers at Providence Youth Student Movement to launch a campaign for educational justice in the Providence Public School District. 

Current Youth Leaders



Youth Organizer | he/him/his |

For some time, Brian Aun struggled with his identity as a Khmer American. But that soon changed when he started working with ARISE. Brian Aun grew up in Providence, Rhode Island. He constantly works hard to change his community by challenging the public schools’ injustices. He embraces his Southeast Asian, queer, musician self and wants everyone to feel comfortable in their own skin.


Symone Burrell

Youth Organizer | she/her/hers |

Hi, I'm Symone Burrell and am currently an 18 year old ARISE Junior Facilitator who is attending college at the Community College of Rhode Island. For the past few years of my life I have been extremely interested in many areas of the arts. At first, I fell in love with music production, but along the way I found myself completely immersed in film production. As I enter college this upcoming school year, I will be diving deeper into the study of film, screenwriting, and media for two years. I will then continue my education as a transfer student to a selected art institute of my choice. As I learn to harness the skills of production, I hope to one day use them to transform the industry and create films that will continue to push this generation.


Mealaktey Sok

Junior Facilitator | she/her/hers |

Mealaktey Sok is a Cambodian American from Providence, Rhode Island. She is currently a junior at Classical High School. She is the daughter of two Cambodian refugees. She works as a junior facilitator at ARISE to both lead others and learn from others on how to be socially conscious, as well as provide access and success for disadvantaged groups within her community. With her motto, “Always strive and prosper”, she hopes to empower Khmer people and tell their history. She also loves art and hopes that through her work, she can express her ideas in different creative forms.


Nancy Xiong

Junior Facilitator | she/her/hers |

Nancy Xiong is a Hmong-American and was born in Providence, Rhode Island. During the Secret and Vietnam War, Nancy's parents, grandparents, and relatives fought against the Communist Party in Laos. As a result, that led Nancy's and many other Hmong families to immigrate to the United States as Hmong refugees in the mid 1970s to 1980s. Understanding Hmong culture and its history has motivated Nancy to find ways to advocate for the next generation to be successful in education.


Jeny daniels-SAVIN

Youth Leader | she/her/hers |

Hello, I’m Jeny (pronounced Jen-I, not Jenny) Daniels. I’m fifteen years old, but I don’t always act like it. My mom is Cambodian and my father is African-American, but according to my friends I am blasian (black and asian). My family consists of me, my three brothers, my sister and my parents. I’m the middle child so I’m always put under pressure. I have to set an example for my older and younger siblings, so I’m used to being a leader. At school, I am the president for my graduating class of 2022. I am also in outdoor track and field, theater, and orchestra. Through these things, I am able to express myself and show that I too can make a difference. Life is too short, so I try to make a difference and help others who need it more than I do.


Niamiah Jefferson

Youth Leader | she/her/hers |

Niamiah Jefferson is a junior at Ponaganset High School. As an African American student who attends a predominantly white school, she feels as though her voice is being silenced, and does not see enough curriculum about people of color being taught. As a part of ARISE, she aspires to make the voices of marginalized groups heard in areas like her school, where it holds no value, and would like to have more ethnic based curriculum that focuses on people of color. Along with being a part of ARISE, she is a hard working student who participates in track and field and is inspired by J.Cole.


Salimatou Kaba

Youth Leader | she/her/hers | 

Sali Kaba was born in Providence, RI and is a junior at Times 2 STEM Academy. She participated in ARISE programs in Summer 2018 to find herself and confidence. She loves the acceptance and positivity that ARISE gives to everyone they encounter and enjoys being in ARISE’s company. She is passionate about self love, and youth empowerment. She is ready to encourage youth who feel out of place and face new challenges that will help her grow.



Youth Leader | he/him/his |

Hi, you can call Ger or Jay. Proud Hmong. ARISE Family. “If you don’t speak for yourself, who will?”


Akyla Proeung

Youth Leader | she/her/hers |

Akyla currently attends Cranston East High School as a freshman. She is excited to be a part of the ARISE Youth Leaders and hope to continue growing as a person.


Youth Leader | he/him/his |


Chansonida Uk

Youth Leader | she/her/hers |

Chansonida Uk is a Cambodian-American and is from Providence, Rhode Island.  She is a driven and and a devoted student who is currently a senior at Classical High School.  She partakes in various activities in and out of school such as participating in the school’s Coding Club and Math Team, being captain of the Girls’ Tennis Team, and volunteering at The Miriam Hospital.  Chansonida is always eager to make an impact and shows her dedication to her learning and personal development. More importantly, she truly cares about the development and success of her peers and the people in her community.  Coming from a family who are survivors of the Cambodian Genocide, Chansonida hopes to speak upon the history of the Khmer people, and to bring to light the stories of the Cambodian survivors.


Renina Wynn

Youth Leader | she/her/hers |

Renina Wynn is a junior at Moses Brown School and one of our Youth Leaders. She has been with us since our first cohort in the summer of 2016. She is very passionate about the empowerment of youth, as she has made many of the ARISE videos on our website, and has been a big help with the social media pages. Her growth within ARISE has been exponential. When she first joined ARISE she was also starting high school and felt lost, which has truly been her drive for youth empowerment and confidence development. Lastly Renina really enjoys track and field, video editing, and listening to her favorite artist Rex Orange County. 

Interested in applying?


Youth Leaders recruit a new cohort of youth once a year. Interested youth must go through an application process. In 2018, applicants were asked to attend a one day orientation, submit this application form and participate in a group interview with Youth Leaders.

ARISE Youth Leader Recruitment Flyer.jpg

Captions (left to right):

1). Brian competing in the papaya salad eating contest at PrYSM-ARISE's Southeast Asian New Year Youth Celebration

2). Francois making a stencil of a butterfly at the PrYSM-ARISE Campaign Art Workshop

3). Patrick, Aaron, and Serrina explaining their school design at the PrYSM-ARISE Educational Justice Retreat

4). Visiting the Resilient Roots community farm in Camden during the Grassroots Asians Rising youth conference

5). ARISE Youth Leaders meeting activist and prison abolitionist Cece McDonald after the screening of her documentary, Free Cece!

6). Building projection in Philadelphia by Asian American community activists at the Grassroots Asians Rising youth conference

7). ARISE Youth Leaders at our annual Amplifying Student Voice and Leadership dinner

8). ARISE Youth Leaders Symone, Brian, and Renina

9). ARISE and PrYSM Youth Leaders participating in a school build workshop with the Center for Youth and Community Leadership in Education (CYCLE) at the PrYSM-ARISE Educational Justice Retreat

10). ARISE and PrYSM Youth Leaders at the Youth Leadership Institute in Massachusetts

11). Ger and Deijah at the Washington D.C. March for Our Lives with a poster made by Mealaktey

12). ARISE and PrYSM Youth Leaders at the PrYSM-ARISE Campaign Planning Retreat

13). Brian and Nick at the Amplifying Student Voice and Leadership School Visits

14). ARISE and PrYSM Youth Leaders facilitating a workshop at the Youth Leadership Institute in Massachusetts

15). Youth organizers from across the country at the Grassroots Asians Rising youth conference in Philadelphia

16). Destiny and Nancy posing a question to Providence city council candidates at the Providence Housing Crisis: City Council Candidate Forum.